SiriusXM launches customized streaming to mobile devices, powered by The Echo Nest

Tuesday, April 16, 2013 - 3:20pm

Satellite radio broadcaster SiriusXM yesterday officially launched its "personalizable" streaming radio component, MySXM. The service had been available on the web for a few months, and had pleased some early reviewers (in RAIN in February here and March here).

As of this week, it's also now available on Android and iOS mobile platforms.

MySXM listeners can customize 50 music or comedy streams by adjusting three "sliders." The sliders scale the proportion of material in the stream according to the slider settings. For instance, a listener may lean towards different levels of "Popularity,"  different "Eras," "Styles," and more.

The service uses music intelligence from The Echo Nest, which also powers custom streaming services like iHeartRadio.

Coverage from TheNextWeb is here.

Tech columnist finds SiriusXM custom stream service great for the "set it and forget it" crowd

Wednesday, March 27, 2013 - 3:05pm

Early last month PC Magazine took SiriusXM's custom online streaming service, MySXM, for a spin (in RAIN here). IT World's Peter Smith gave it a try this week.

MySXM lets the listener customize the streams of 40 of its music channels using sliders to adjust the "style," "popularity," and "era." Note that there's no air talent presence with the custom streams, just music.

Smith loved the idea of being able to remove the disco from his 70s stream ("Now when I tune into "70's on 7" I get Creedence Clearwater Revival and Rolling Stones instead of Donna Summer and The Village People"). However, he bristled at the cost. It's $15/month if you don't have the satellite service, about $3.50/month if you do (based on various subscription packages).

"If you're someone who has a bunch of playlists or you don't mind fiddling with other streaming services then you might not find much here to convince you to switch," he writes. "But if you just want to turn on some music in the morning and have quality tunes streamed to your desk all day long with no input, check out a 7 day trial."

Read more in IT World here.

SiriusXM to air content from Glenn Beck's TheBlaze

Monday, March 25, 2013 - 1:15pm

Sirius XM Radio will air content from "TheBlaze" -- the "multi-platform news, information, and opinion network" of former radio and TV personality Glenn Beck. Beck's online stream "TheBlaze Radio Network" will be added to the SiriusXM Internet Radio lineup, and the network will produce hourly radio newscasts for the SiriusXM's conservative talk channel "Patriot."

TechCrunch reported that TheBlaze is looking to raise $40 million in new investment. According to SEC filings, Beck's group has raised $1.5 million so far, and its current revenue is between $25-100 million!

Read more from Radio Online here and TechCrunch here.

CRB misapplied 801(b) in SiriusXM's favor, says Brookings' Villasenor

Monday, March 4, 2013 - 2:40pm

The Brookings Institution's John Villasenor, who's written extensively in support of a fairer standard for Internet radio royalties, calls satellite radio's royalty "too low by several percentage points."

Interestingly, Villasenor points to 801(b) itself at the root of the problem -- but it seems he blames the Copyright Royalty Board's interpretation of the standard more than the standard itself.

Villasenor may be familiar to RAIN readers (we've covered his writing several times here) for his calls for a change in the law that would have Internet radio royalties determined using the legal standard known as 801(b). This is the standard used to for satellite radio and cable radio royalties, as well as for the royalties recording labels pay composers and publishers to publish recordings.

[Currently, Internet radio royalties are determined using a different standard, known as "willing buyer / willing seller." Legislation known as the Internet Radio Fairness Act, now in both houses of Congress, would enact the standard change called for by Villasenor. More from RAIN on the IRFA is here.]

The 801(b) standard (among other criteria) requires the CRB to "minimize any disruptive impact on the structure of the industries involved and on generally prevailing industry practices."

The CRB decided the most appropriate rate for satellite radio for the 2013-2017 term would actually be 11% of gross revenue. But in its effort to minimize potential disruptive impact on SiriusXM, it decided to phase in the rate over the four years, beginning at 9% for 2013.

This is despite SiriusXM's 2009-2012 revenue growth, from less than $2.5 billion to over $3.4 billion.

Villasenor, who's also a UCLA electrical engineering professor, writes, "In fact, under the 9% rate that will apply for 2013, there’s a good argument that artists will suffer more disruption from their unfairly low income than SiriusXM will avoid thanks to its discounted payment obligations."

Read his article in Billboard here.

"Accelerating Your Audience Growth" at RAIN Summit features execs from Sirius, Pandora, ABC Radio News

Friday, March 1, 2013 - 3:20pm

It's said that the premium in our digital economy is "attention" -- listeners simply don't have the time to consume every bit of content that's churned out. Your marketing needs to effectively attract audience, and your programming needs to be compelling to keep listeners. Certainly your potential audience is the world, but you have global-scale competition too. And new technology is constantly giving potential listeners new options across so many digital platforms -- print and video as well as audio. So what are the best practices to get more new listeners, and how do you get your existing listeners to listen more?

For this April's RAIN Summit West in Las Vegas, we've assembled the "Accelerating Your Audience Growth" panel to address these very questions.

SiriusXM knows about listeners. They ended 2012 with nearly 24 million subscribers, a record for the company. Sirius also reported $3.4 billion in revenue, also a record. We welcome to RAIN Summit Rachna Bhasin, SVP/Corporate Strategy and Business Development at Sirius XM Radio. Her background working for EMI Music will be valuable in our audience growth discussion.

Alan Burns (upper left) laid the groundwork for his Alan Burns & Associates research and consultancy firm with experience as a former major market program director, on-air talent, and researcher. Alan Burns & Associates produces the "Here She Comes: Insights into Women, Radio, and New Media" study.

ABC News Radio VP/GM Steve Jones (middle right) returns to the RAIN Summit stage. He's leader of a team that creates audio and text content for terrestrial radio, Internet radio, satellite radio, and mobile distribution -- including customizable news/lifestyle content for Slacker Radio. He's twice been awarded "News Executive of the Year."

Another returning RAIN Summit vet is Jim Lucchese (lower left) CEO of music intelligence company The Echo Nest. Jim's company powers many of the music services that "adapt" to a listener's tastes: Echo Nest APIs have been used for more than 350 apps for companies like Spotify, Nokia, Vevo, and Clear Channel's iHeartRadio. The Echo Nest raised $17.3m of funding in 2012.

The bulk of Internet radio's audience are Pandora listeners: 1.39 billion hours of listening in January, 65.6 million active listeners, and a 7.19% share of U.S. radio listening. Chris Martin, Pandora's VP/Engineering (bottom right), manages software development, quality assurance, customer support, device development, device certification, and production support. His efforts helped Pandora forge 20 U.S. auto partnerships and get the app in 85 different car models.

RAIN Summit West is Sunday, April 7 in Las Vegas. The annual full-day Internet radio conference is a co-located education program of the NAB Show. Now in its 12th year, the Summit focuses on the intersection of radio and the Internet. Keynoting the even will be RAB president and CEO Erica Farber (more in RAIN here) and Rhapsody International president Jon Irwin (more here). Register today, while flights and hotels are still readily available, via the RAIN Summit West page.

"MySXM," SiriusXM customized streaming, filters music by Style, Era, and Popularity

Tuesday, February 5, 2013 - 1:20pm

SiriusXM's custom streaming radio service is still in beta, and's Jeffrey Wilson can't wait for the official launch. He concluded his review, "MySXM gave me the personalization features I longed for while delivering the unexpected ability to filter my channels by favorite music eras."

The "MySXM" -- this is only for Internet streaming, and only for the desktop -- is currently limited to 40 channels. After launching a channel, the listener can customize the stream by adjusting three "sliders." The sliders scale the proportion of music of different Style, Popularity, and Era (in the image, the "My 70s on 7" channel can be balanced between "Soul/Disco" or "Rock" for Style).

SiriusXm hasn't yet announced when they plan to officially launch MySXM, but it will reportedly be available only on the desktop to start (though it seems likely to be ported to mobile devices as well).

Read the review here.

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